How do we organise for nonhumans?
The explorations of community organising have given me a major framework in which to place my organising efforts. However challenges have arisen in exploring these methods in relation to organising for nonhumans - that is the billions of animals used and killed worldwide for animal farming, vivisection, entertainment, clothing and more.
To take this further I have undertaken significant reflection of previous organising efforts and my upbringing in the animal rights movement as well as reading new literature by some more progressive animal rights authors.
Dr Melanie Joy believes that there are several key features which genuinely distinguish the animal liberation movement to other movements fighting oppression:
1. The scope of institutional & personal investment in maintaining a status quo is unparalleled by any other form of exploitation in human history
2. Animals cannot advocate for themselves
3. Animals are legal property rather than legal persons
4. It is harder & slower to change attitudes
Making systematic connections
The intersections between animal liberation and anarchism also propose more systematic connections. Bob Torres says "Speciesm is woven into our mental, social & economic machinery, and reproduced through the interaction of these parts - its a structural aspect of our political-economic order."
This 'structural aspect' indicates the need for a systematic view. Torres believes that we need to fight at the heart of the economic order that drives these oppressions - capitalism.
Anti-capitalism is often a 'given' in many grassroots animal rights groups however as a movement there has been a general failure to make these connections or build a culture of resistance and solidarity with people working on non animal-orientated issues. The animal rights movement's interest in agriculture or land based living is generally in the minority, with groups such as the Vegan Organic Network and Veganic Agriculture Network in America pushing these connections.
I have spent the past year thinking about the connections between animal liberation and permaculture, finally drawing some clarity.
Applying the Principles of Permaculture & Community Organising to movements for Animal Liberation
Involves taking a systematic approach - exploring interrelated oppressions & root causes e.g. capitalism, domination
- Acknowledging connections between forms of oppression (while still recognising what makes animal liberation a unique struggle)
- Integrate not segregate - we need to cross pollinate with diverse movements and groups of people, we need to build a genuine culture of solidarity
- Creating empowering organisations and movements - the AR movement has been subjected to massive police repression & as such has often been seen as a 'dangerous' movement to become involved with. We need to create a positive empowering space where people feel proud to be involved. One that builds confidence & offers those involved tangible yields and ways for improving their own lives.
- We need to look at how we collectively build power in our networks so that hierarchies or 'specialists' do not dominate, decreasing our resilience
- We need to propose solutions - such as plant based permaculture and demonstrate beneficial & tangible alternatives to animal agriculture & capitalism. This requires new forms of agricultural and political literacy
- We need to build literacy in ecological & systems thinking - ""Only with an integrative, holistic & thoughtful approach to all oppression & hierarchy can we hope to build a different society" (Torres)
- We need to support the building of a vegan culture that can meet the needs of our communities e.g. growing food, plant based medicines
- Veganism is the baseline - "Becoming vegan is the first and most vital step that someone can take to live their life as ethically and logically consistent anti-speciest - it is living the abolition of animal slavery in your every day life." (Torres)